O'Neill revival gathers further momentum

Wed, Jan 4, 2012, 00:00

Wigan 1 Sunderland 4:THE SUNDERLAND revival under Martin O’Neill gained pace at a rain-swept Wigan Athletic, where a convincing fourth win in the new manager’s first half-dozen games took the visitors to 10th place in the table.

Roberto Martinez’s side were ripped to pieces by, among others, Nicklas Bendtner, David Vaughan and James McClean, the last a young Irishman playing in only his second full Premier League game.

By the time 30 minutes were played Sunderland were bossing the play. Bendtner should have scored from McClean’s inviting cross from the left, yet despite arriving at the near post before Ali al-Habsi the striker could not get a touch on the ball.

As if roused from their complacency Wigan went straight down the field and struck the woodwork twice within 10 seconds in a remarkable passage of play, through efforts from David Jones and Ben Watson.

But in the fourth of five added minutes before the break Sunderland took the lead, Habsi left rooted to the spot as Craig Gardner drove a free-kick past him from 25 yards.

Things did not improve much for Habsi in the second half. The goalkeeper made a terrific save from McClean after Vaughan’s cross, but he could do nothing to keep out the 22-year-old Irishman’s follow up effort.

It was a catastrophic start to the second half for the home side, though nothing less than Sunderland’s summer signing from Derry City deserved. McClean’s pace had shown up in the first half, and for a player making only his second Premier League start he collected his goal with impressive composure.

Wigan managed to hit back just after the hour through Hugo Rodallega’s first goal of the season, as long as Connor Sammon does not dispute it. There was no doubt that the Wigan substitute got the last touch, and maybe the one that beat Mignolet, though Rodallega’s shot from James McCarthy’s pass was possibly goalbound anyway.

But Sunderland pulled away again, Bendtner taking advantage of wide open spaces on the right to centre for the unchallenged Sessegnon to slip the ball past Habsi. There was never much chance of Wigan coming back from that, even less when Vaughan hit a fourth past Habsi with a left-foot strike from just outside the area.

WIGAN: Al Habsi, Gohouri, Alcaraz,Figueroa, Stam (Sammon 58), Watson (Diame 86), McCarthy,Jones, Gomez, Crusat (Moses 39), Rodallega. Subs not used: Pollitt, Di Santo, McArthur, Boyce. Booked: Stam.

SUNDERLAND: Mignolet, Gardner (Elmohamady 83), Kilgallon,O’Shea, Colback, McClean (Ji 89), Cattermole, Vaughan, Richardson (Meyler 67), Sessegnon, Bendtner. Subs not used: Carson, Noble, Lynch, Laing.

Referee: Mike Dean(Wirral).

Guardian Service